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The importance of confinement support

NewbornNathan

A friend recently shared this article on Facebook which talked about how cultures who practice some form of ‘confinement period’ after childbirth appeared to have a lower incidence of post-partum depression. I can personally testify to the truth of this article.

Fending for ourselves…
After Nathan was born when I arrived home from the hospital, there was a short interval of one week when we pretty much had to fend for ourselves. My mother who was coming to look after me was not able to come earlier due to some logistical issues. I had pre-cooked and frozen some meals in preparation for this and my darling hubby did the best he could to help out around the house.

A very trying time…
Despite all my preparations, that interval was still a very trying time for me. I was sleep-deprived, learning how to handle a new baby, I was in pain due to my stitches, my brain was all frazzled and I had little patience to give specific instructions to my hubby for every little task he was helping with.

Breaking down…image
I remember on the third day after we arrived home from the hospital, I had a home visit from a midwife as part of the hospital’s post-natal care. After the midwife had examined and weighed baby Nathan, she turned to me and asked gently “so how are YOU doing, dear?”.

It was such a simple question, but I immediately broke down and started crying. That was really a low point for me.

Thankfully, my mother arrived just a few days later to look after me. I definitely appreciated having home-cooked food all the time, not having to worry about doing dishes, laundry or housework, and being able to rest and sleep whenever I could in between baby’s feeds and wake-times.

Looking back…
Looking back on the whole experience, it made me realise how important the ‘confinement period’ is in our culture. Whether or not we follow all the traditional practices to the letter, I think the key thing is having someone to provide practical functional care and loving support.

Considering others…
After reading the article and reflecting on my own personal experience, I think I should try to be a little more pro-active in offering practical help or support to fellow first-time mommy friends. Particular if they’re in a situation like me, being far away from family, especially in their post-partum period.

Whether it’s bringing over a full-blown traditional confinement dish or helping to wash their dishes or just popping by to see how they’re doing – if they are anything like me, even a small act of kindness can make a big difference.

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Linking up to Susan’s Motivational Mondays

www.ajugglingmom.com

Comments

  1. i really liked this post! and also your post some time back on working part-time. just storing up nuggets of knowledge and wisdom for the future :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! store it all up. your situation might not be exactly the same, but it's good to get different perspective to come up with alternative options and ideas. I'm still learning and collecting nuggets of wisdom from others even now all the time too.

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  2. Hi Serene, like you we had to cope on our own for 2-3 days as I had pre-eclampsia on my last gyne check up and was admitted for C- sec the next day. I also broke down and cried when I got home as I just wasn't prepared and was at a loss when baby cried. I remember raising my voice at my mom because I felt like I was a lousy mom...When the confinement nanny arrived, I was so relived and appreciative that baby and I were taken care of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice that you can relate to this experience. The breaking down and crying is pretty tough I think. 'cos in that moment it feels like I'm such a failure for not being able to handle myself and everything. Somehow we mothers (even first time ones) feel we must be able to do everything. Sometimes all it takes is just a wise and caring person to step in and say, it's ok to let others help.

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  3. Oh yes, I agree, the confinement period does help alot, in giving a mum much needed rest when she needs it. And thanks for the reminder that we can also do a little to help mums too! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Yes MamaJ... I guess there is a universal truth underlying all the traditional practices of confinement... that it's simply all about rest and recovery.

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  4. Having your own mum to help during confinement period is great, but I'm not convinced about the wisdom of having a confinement nanny. It seems to be luck of the draw whether you get a good one, and a bad one could be source of more distress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so true.

      Whoever the person is, they must be genuinely there simply to provide loving care and support... and not play psychological games with the poor new mother.

      I agree that sometimes, a new mom who is vulnerable and less confident (coupled with the fact that she is exhausted and can't think straight) could be duped or pressured into doing things she had not planned at the start... e.g. offering formula, deliberately diverting a routine she had planned etc.

      I believe the carer in question must be truly there for the mother... with no hidden agenda

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  5. I was lucky to have a good confinement lady. Even though that was so, I broke down during the first few days partly because I was stressed out by not having enough equipment in the kitchen for her. First time mum + we don't cook, heh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those first few days are the most vulnerable... I know what you mean, even a seemingly 'small' matter seems like a big deal.. but really seriously, it IS a big deal to a new mum. Glad that you were well taken care of by a good confinement lady

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  6. Great article. I always learn something new from blog like yours.

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  7. I think it really depends a lot on your relationship with your Mum and m-i-l. My parents don't live in the UK so I was reliant on my m-i-l. Fortunately she didn't impose strict confinement restrictions on me as she couldn't remember most of them (!)but she did start to drive me a bit nuts with her fussing around me after a few days.

    I was lucky to have good maids who took over the burden of the housework and cooking so after the first week my m-i-l disappeared and left me to it. With nos 2 & 3 she helped by fetching the others from school. That was really all the help that I needed. Maternity leave is a very short part of your life and I wanted that time with my babies - just me and my babies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. nms1, I agree that the time with our babies is so fleeting. No matter how exhausted I was, I personally prefer to look after my baby and nurture him directly myself. Instead of just leaving another person to do most of the looking after. But definitely helps having support around to take care of other things around the house so I can focus completely on baby

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